Liberals and Muslims around the world must be scratching their heads, wondering if they had been taken for a fool all along. Trump’s anti-Islam speeches were breathtaking. Trump’s hatred against Muslims was legendary. Trump happily spoke against radical Islamic terrorist – three magic words – that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton dared to touch.
In 2015, he called for a “total shutdown” of Muslims to the U.S. In November 2015, Trump falsely claimed Muslims in New Jersey cheered for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In June 2016, the then presumptive GOP nominee Trump said it was “absolutely” possible a Muslim judge would treat him unfairly after his call for banning Muslims from the U.S.
As the 45th President of the United States, one of his executive orders was banning citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries. After Donald Trump won his presidency, Arab nations which had pumped tons of money in favour of Hillary Clinton and condemned Trump’s Islamophobia, cheered and claimed they now prefer anti-Muslim Trump to pro-Muslim Obama.
In fact, the Arabs loved Clinton so much that 68% Saudis believed Clinton should be the next president, more than 46% Americans who wanted Clinton. Saudi Arabia had funded 20% of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Even Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a grandson of Ibn Saud, the first Saudi king, the world’s 45th richest man, was against Trump.
Not anymore. Al-Waleed, with an estimated net worth of US$17.6 billion, made a U-turn and kissed Trump’s butt. The Saudi prince who had called Trump a disgrace to the American people and confidently told Trump that he will never win the presidency was forced to congratulate the U.S. president and begged him to let bygones be bygones.
Now, Saudi Arabia, the supposedly leader of Islam and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, has prepared a spectacular welcome for Donald Trump. Saudi now gloats and twists that the US president’s decision to make Riyadh the first stop in his first foreign trip in office is indeed an honour for the kingdom.
Before Trump travels to Jerusalem on Monday, he will be a guest alongside 50 Arab and Muslim leaders at a banquet that Saudi King Salman says will “forge a new partnership”. Saudi and U.S. flags are already fluttering along streets in Riyadh’s central business district. And there’ll be an exhibition of classic American cars as well as sports matches and concerts.
Heck, there’s even an online clock counts down the seconds until the big day – Arab Islamic American Summit – on May 20-21, 2017. It’s not hard to understand why Saudi is treating anti-Muslim Trump like a celebrity; rolling red-carpet for him but a pro-Muslim Obama was snubbed by King Salman when the former U.S. president visited Riyadh last year.
Sunni Muslims hate their own brother Shia / Shiite Muslims more than the Kafirs – Christians and Jews. As long as Trump also hates Iran, the leader of Shia Islam Saudi is more than happy to hug and kiss the U.S. president. Trump is expected to use the opportunity to lobby Saudi Arabia to form closer ties with Israel, arguing that all three states share a common foe – Iran.
Saudi will also gleefully share Trump administration enthusiastic to overturn the Obama-led closer relationship with Iran, which culminated in a historic nuclear deal aimed at enticing the country to stop its nuclear program in return for a gradual lifting of crippling sanctions. The oil-rich kingdom desperately needs a reset after 8 years of increasing bitterness towards Obama.
That’s why Saudi Arabia’s predominant leader, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, hailed President Trump as a “true friend of Muslims”, despite Trump’s overwhelming anti-Muslim speeches and policies. Riyadh is ready to bend over in anticipation of biggest weapons deals in history and the formation of “Arab NATO”.
Saudi has been looking forward to the creation of Arab NATO for many years with an expectation that the U.S. will offer leadership, financial support and defence against external threat, understandably against Iran and its Shia followers. However, Trump has so far favoured bilateral models that shift the burden of payment to allies.
Still, it’s hard to see how Trump administration would go to war against Saudi Arabia’s enemy Bashar al-Assad who has been winning the Syrian war with the assistance of Russia. Trump got elected promising not to embroil America in more wars. Sure, he could send some Tomahawk cruise missiles to demolish an empty airbase, but that’s all Trump is willing to commit
Another reason why King Salman is so thrilled and excited about Trump’s visit is the wishful thinking that Washington could reverse a law that allows the families of America’s September 11 victims (3,000 were killed) to sue Saudi Arabia, or any other nations for that matter, for their role in the attacks. As many as 15 out of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 were Saudi citizens.
Besides red-carpet and songs of praise, Saudi is expected to buy more military hardware and software from America. They also knew Trump needs to brag to the Americans how he successfully brings more foreign investment. Therefore, Saudi sovereign wealth fund is set to announce investments worth US$40 billion in U.S. infrastructure.
However, it’s the speech to be delivered by Trump during his visit to the Middle East that is of utmost interest. Will he courageously use the 3 magic words – radical Islamic terrorist – in front of King Salman, knowing very well it would be a slap on the kingdom which was the main supplier and sponsor of terrorism that gave birth to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State?